My Personal Life Story
Chaplain Kurt "Mario" Haas
If you could hear me talk, you would immediately detect a foreign accent. You see, when
God created the world, He kissed it - and then He made Switzerland. That's where
I'm from! [Click on the little Swiss flag at the beginning of this paragraph for a fine surprise.]
I left home at the age of 14, when my parents devastated me with the news
of their divorce. This led me down a lonely road of alcohol addiction for
nine years. Going from one country to another, trying to run from my
problems, I found work as a professional waiter, bartender, and maitre d'
in high class restaurants.
Finally, at the age of 24, I came to work at a steak house off Broadway in
New York City. Thronged by the Manhattan crowds, I felt cut off and suffered
the pain and heartbreak of loneliness.
One day, my sister in Switzerland sent me the book The Cross
and the Switchblade written in the German
language. I read it, only because I felt so
lonely and was dying to read something in my native tongue. After reading the
book, I immediately set out to fulfill my sister's request - to find out if
this David Wilkerson, author of the book and founder of
Teen Challenge, was for real.
Walking up and down Greenwich Village, I couldn't find the Catacomb Chapel,
mentioned in the book. Finally, I thought to myself, " Aha, you see. This book is
phony!" I was about to give up when I walked on further and stumbled
across the Lost Coin. For some reason, they had to move the coffee house
and had given the new coffee house a different name. Once I met " Mom"
Wilkerson, I felt
compelled to visit her at the coffee house again and again. My searching went
on for eight long months. Little did I know that the Teen
Challenge workers had a 24-hour prayer chain going for this stubborn Swiss.
Finally, one night, I stumbled down the aisle of Glad Tidings church, drunk
as a skunk. But you know, when I got up from that altar, I was as sober as
the preacher behind the pulpit.
I entered the Teen Challenge program, stayed on as a
staff member, and later went on to complete my studies at
Ozark Bible Institute and Ashland
Theological Seminary, where I earned a Master's in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling.
The degree meant little to me spiritually but has served as a door opener to
opportunities for ministry in prisons where I otherwise would have been turned
In 1972, Barbara became my faithful helpmeet.
(You can read the story of our " Miracle Wedding" here.) God has
blessed us with five mighty arrows in our quiver. Together, we
have served as a family, ministering one-on-one and in both church and
prison chapel services to people who are hurting. With God's help,
we will continue bringing deliverance to the captive!
Chaplain Mario, a Swiss evangelist, was converted to Christ from a life of alcohol addiction
through " Mom" Wilkerson of the New York City Teen
Challenge. He holds a Master of Arts in Pastoral Psychology and Counseling through
Ashland Theological Seminary and is a
licensed professional member of the American
Correctional Association. He is fluent in English, the Swiss dialects, German, French, and
Are you wondering why Chaplain Mario is affectionately known within the prison system as the " Chicken Soup" Chaplain?
He's gained this title because of his popular, tearful readings from
Chicken Soup for the Soul
at the beginning of each of his chapel services. Inmates readily relate to these heart-warming stories of courageous
people who climbed impossible hurdles, when life was against them - stories that reopen the
heart and rekindle the spirit. There's hardly a dry eye after these stories, which God has used
in a remarkable way to reopen the hearts of hardened criminals.
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Last updated February 13, 2015